Science | Microplastics are found in Europe’s largest ice sheet

Science |  Microplastics are found in Europe’s largest ice sheet

pollution microplásticos I even reached the remote and pristine part of the Vatnajokull Glacier in Iceland, the largest ice sheet in Europe.

The microplásticos It could influence glacier melt and geological behavior, and thus influence future meltwater contribution to sea level rise and oceans.

This is the first time that the discovery of microplastics has been described in the Vatnajökull glacier. The team of scientists from the University of Reykjavik (UK), the University of Gothenburg and the Icelandic Meteorological Office visualized and identified microplastics of various sizes and materials using optical microscopy and Raman micro-spectroscopy.

The discussion on microplastics has focused primarily on Radioactive contamination From the sea, but so far little research has been done on plastic in Earth’s polar caps. So far, the particles have been found microplásticas In the Italian Alps, in the Ecuadorian Andes, and in the icebergs of Svalbard.

According to Dr Helenor Stefanson, Associate Professor in the UK Department of Engineering and first author of the paper, they understand a distribution microplásticos Their short- and long-term effects on ice dynamics are of vital importance.

Plastic particles in the atmosphere

The results confirm that the particles microplásticas It is distributed throughout the atmosphere. “We do not understand the pathways of microplastics in our environment well enough. Is plastic carried by snow and rain? We need to know more about the causes. The samples we are taking are taken from a very remote and pure place in the world.” Stefanson says: “Vatnajokol glacier is not easy to reach To it, so direct contamination from human activity is unlikely. “

We also need to know more about the short-term and long-term effects of microplásticos In the dynamics of ice and if they contribute to the melting of glaciers. If so, it will play a significant role in the future contribution of meltwater in the oceans and sea level rise. Plastic particles degrade very slowly in the cold environment of glaciers and can build up and persist in glaciers for a long time. However, over time, they will liberate from the ice and contribute to the pollution of rivers and the marine environment. Therefore, it is extremely important to identify and understand the presence and prevalence of microplastics in glaciers on a global scale. ”

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